From Past Experience

You guys may be aware by now that I started out life as a junior QS at a large construction firm, and it was my job (among others) to manage the tenders that came through the door.


It was a HUGE learning curve, one that I truly believe has shaped how I look at pricing today, and I learned a lot of interesting things along the way, so I thought I would share!


Commercial tendering is just like regular pricing for a homeowner, it just has a whole lot more paperwork. I actually am a fan of the paperwork, it meant that you always knew where you stood in regard to how the project was going to be run. You also knew that everyone else was getting the same paperwork who were pricing too, and so you felt more comfortable that there would be a fair comparison.


I’ll always remember a new tender coming in, it would either be hand delivered or arrive on a memory stick because the files were so large…. And the first job was to print out the entire thing several times over. There was a copy that lived in our office, and a few copies that lived in the ‘subbies room’. This was a place that our sub-contractors could come to so they could look at the plans and take copies of what they needed. It helped that we could print everything out on a huge format copier! (And hilarious when you accidentally printed the next email you received at the same size because you forgot to switch the printers over! A0 anyone??????)

Reverse engineering the job

From there it was a matter of unpicking the time frames when was the tender due? When did I want to ask my subs to get pricing to me by? Reverse engineering at this point was key, as it wasn’t uncommon to receive tenders that were due only a week from the date they were sent out. Sometimes I would have 4 or 5 of these on the go, all with different due dates and different workloads. I relied on my electronic calendar on Outlook really heavily….. blocking out days and times so that I could get everything done in the time frame that I needed, ensuring I also had time to walk through the project with my senior QS prior to sending it out.


I’d set up a new file on my computer to save everything to, a folder for tender docs, a folder for sub quotes, a folder for my tender letter…. Etc. The tender letter was always the VERY FIRST thing that I would set up because as I whipped through checking over all the documents for the tender, I would start seeing things immediately that I might need clarification on, or need to provide a tag for.


This is the first in my commercial tendering series…. In the next blog, I'll cover the ins and outs of the paperwork and things to watch out for!

Leave a Comment